- Rich Cimini, ESPN New York Jets reporter
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez loves to text his teammates and coaches. It can be a serious comment about a particular play in the game plan or a motivational message on the morning of a game.
"Or a picture or something," coach Rex Ryan said Thursday. "I get all kinds of things from him."
That comment drew muffled laughter from reporters. Realizing what he had said, Ryan quickly added, "No, not that kind of stuff."
Texting is a sensitive subject around the New York Jets, thanks to the Brett Favre scandal. As the Jets' starting quarterback in 2008, Favre allegedly sent lewd text messages and photos to a former Jets game-day hostess, triggering an ongoing league investigation that could result in a suspension for the future Hall of Famer.
Sanchez's non-football texts are rated G -- for goofy.
"He'll send one of a cartoon, and it'll be a cartoon of me, and the guy is like 500 pounds," Ryan said. "He'll send it [and say], 'Just thought you'd want to see this.' He'll do random things like that all the time."
That particular cartoon made it to a few cell phones on the Jets. Backup quarterback Kellen Clemens reached for his iPhone and punched up the photo -- a green and white cartoon of "Coach Rex," a portly football coach. It resembled something out of "Family Guy," the animated TV show.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer received the same picture from Sanchez. So did tight end Dustin Keller.
"I'll get some off-the-wall texts," said Keller, who receives about 10 to 12 per week from his quarterback. "He's a pretty off-the-wall person."
Sanchez said he likes to send motivational messages to his teammates. He said that after hearing about Braylon Edwards' recent drunken driving arrest, he sent a text to his wide receiver that read: "Hey, man, stay focused. We need you on the field. Forget everything else. Check that at the door. When we're on the field, just play."
Before Santonio Holmes' Jets debut Monday night against Favre and the Minnesota Vikings, Sanchez fired off a text to his new receiver: "Hey, man, welcome back. Put on a show. I'll bring the popcorn, you bring the show. Let's go."
Imagine that: A rah-rah speech in 160 characters or less. What if Knute Rockne had a cell phone? Would he have delivered the Gipper speech via text?
"It's nice that he thinks about that, trying to build up people," Schottenheimer said of the Jets' second-year quarterback. "That's another thing he's maturing with, understanding personalities and relationships, how you have to work them and build them."
Some players said they have received late-night texts from Sanchez, often pertaining to a specific football question. Just last week, he contacted Keller, suggesting certain pass routes that might work against the Vikings' Cover 2 defense.
Edwards said he has received midnight messages with specific suggestions -- i.e., running a particular pass route at 18 yards instead of 16. Edwards believes the texting is an indication that Sanchez is becoming comfortable as a team leader.
"The quarterback is always going to be 'The Guy' -- he was that guy last year -- but he didn't understand it," Edwards said. "This year, he understands that and he's taking charge of that. He's acting it. He has embraced the role, as opposed to, 'Why me? Am I too young?' This year, he is what they drafted him to be."
"Did you get my text?" he asked Cotchery before the game.
Cotchery, Sanchez learned, shuts off his phone when he arrives at the stadium. That's what you call an incompletion.
Mark Sanchez is sending his teammates messages -- 160 characters at a time.